WIT, HUMOR AND enjoying laughter were life assets that I had firmly in place before becoming a father. Then, when kids arrived, these assets became coping mechanisms for the odd, frustrating, rewarding and absurd world known as parenthood.
There have been countless times in my experience with children that I have felt helpless with no clue of what to do. Being silly and trying to create laughter for them and me has been my default - and savior. Laughter can erase uncomfortable moments, frustration and much more.
When in doubt: eat brownies and laugh
As soon as our firstborn was big enough to get out of the bath basin my partner and I would alternate talking baths with him. He had this dirty little trick he'd only play on me during bath time...he'd poop in the water. Apparently he was so relaxed and comfortable when we were in the water together that he just felt free to let it all out. The first time this happened I was scared and confused with how to deal with it and fortunately my partner came to the aid of my shrieks and removed the foreign objects. The next times that this happened, the shrieks softened into laughs that my partner and I would share together. Laughter took away the grossness and absurdity of sharing a bathtub with a baby and his freshly deposited poop.
Approx. 10 years from now: "Daaaaad, I can't believe you wrote about bathtub poop on your blog! The innerweb is forever!"
Then there's traveling with kids. Our travel without our children would have not been possible without laughter. At 18 months we traveled with our first son to China. After about 12 hours of flight between North America and China we arrived at customs tired, excited and with a child wearing a vomit-saturated outfit. The country we were entering was on high-alert for carriers of a virus with vomiting being one of the key symptoms. We shared smiles and laughs when our passports were returned, we were welcomed into the country, and endless coos, smiles, and giggles were given to our child. My partner and I laughed often on this 4-hour layover as our son scrambled around the airport often followed by curious onlookers in his secondary outfit. It dulled the tiredness and challenge of the experience so much that that is one of my few memories of this moment in time.
Alaskan babies fly for the halibut
Our second son seems to be more measured with his laughter. His smiles are free but his laughter must be earned. My partner and I have briefly talked about this and realize this is just who he is. As a family we actively try to promote his laughter as much as possible because we all know the benefits and how good it makes us feel.
Playing Angry Birds is always good for a laugh
If laughter is not a priority in your home find ways to make it so. Silliness is a great gateway to this emotion. It is as simple as a silly face, a funny noise, a blanket over your head, a crazy story, hypothesizing what the family animals or thinking about the actions of the family, etc. Yes, there may be scientific evidence of the positive effects of laughter and many other advantages but the simple feeling of relief and release is enough to keep my family and me laughing. It just feels great.
Yep, food and laughter - why family dinnertime is great!